Updated 18 Jan 2008

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

Return to Front Page

Starvation of 3 children

A report of inhuman treatment of children from Bonsall in 1857.

Emails on the subject

    The author sent this email to DERBYSGEN, and received the following reply from Dave Johnson:

    Hello Folks,
    There is a curious error in the 1841 Census for Bonsall. Pages 7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15, and 16 (33-38) are in correct order on the microfilm. Nevertheless, the entries were written in the wrong order before the pages were bound. The result is that several families are 'split' where pages meet.

    The families affected are WIGLEY (2), CHARLESWORTH and GRATTON. The correct page order for (33-38) is 7,14,15,12,13,10,11,8,9,16. This order has the effect of joining up the split families. The two WIGLEY families that were split have been checked on the IGI that parents are followed by the right children, as both families had moved out of Bonsall by 1851.

    If you have not the slightest idea what I'm talking about, scroll down www.wirksworth.org/C41-03.htm which has been corrected for this error. A picture is worth a thousand words!

    This error was brought to my attention by John Copley of Fleet, Hampshire, to whom many thanks are due for his sharp eye.

    Best wishes,
    John Palmer, Dorset, England
    Author of Wirksworth website

    Dave Johnson writes:
    Dear John,
    Your recent email on this subject recalled for me an incident that happened in Ilkeston in the mid-1850's and has helped me add a little more background to it.

    One of the families mentioned in your email was 'Wigley' and I took another look at the Bonsall census on your web-site. It now shows a family of >Patrick and Hannah Wigley with several other Wigleys including Annis, aged 15 and Dinah, aged 2, both of whom might seem at first sight to be daughters.

    However it may well be that both Annis and Dinah made their way to Ilkeston, Derbyshire via Basford, Notts. On the 1851 census, at Nottingham Rd, Ilkeston is the household of James Smith, aged 41, unmarried framework knitter, born in Bolsover, with his daughter Hannah, aged 1, born in Nottingham. Also with him are three 'Inmates', Annace Wigley, aged 28, fwk, born in Bonsall, Diner, aged 13, also born in Bonsall, and John, aged 3 born in Basford.

    Records show that shortly after this census Annis had (more?) children, born at Ilkeston....i.e. William born Oct 5 1851, Charles born Mar 21 1854 and Patrick Ward Wigley born Oct 17 1856.

    Apparently they had a tough start in life. The Ilkeston Pioneer newspaper of April 23 1857 has a short article under the heading of

    'Starvation of three children'....
    'For some time there has been living near the Toll Bar a woman named Anise Wigley, or Wheatley, a native of Bonsall, who has had several illegitimate children. The eldest about 7 years and a half old, has acted as a prig [a tinker or thief] for the family; the three next in age have been literally famished, worked, and confined, till they are reduced to the saddest spectacles of destitution ever witnessed in Ilkeston. Several rumours have obtained public currency, respecting the mother's criminal neglect, and inhuman treatment of her family. Mr. Small, the constable, and another parish officer forced an entrance into the room where they were confined, and took them in charge, preparatory to them being sent to the workhouse. That the public may judge of the necessity there existed for the interference of parochial authority, we append the ages and weights of the children.....
    Charles, aged 3 and a half years, weighed 17 lbs
    William aged 5 years weighed 22 and a half lbs
    Hannah aged 6 years weighed 26 lbs
    Infant child not 6 months old weighed 19 and a half lbs
    The children were employed in sewing hose, and the mother's object appears to have been to pine them to death, and while doing so, to work their fingers while life remained. We understand the inhuman wretch has suddenly left the town'.

    A few weeks later, the June 11 edition of the same newspaper had a follow-up article under the heading:

    'The case of Starvation at Ilkeston'.
    'The children belonging to that inhuman mother, Anis Wigley, were removed, under magistrates' orders, from Basford Workhouse to Bonsall last Saturday. They were very much improved by the treatment at the workhouse, and were well sunburnt, which showed they had been in the fresh air. About six weeks ago Hannah, aged 8 years, weighed 26lbs, is now 34lbs weight; William , aged 6, was 22 and a half lbs, is now 32; Charles, aged 5, was 17lbs, is now 24. This certainly speaks well for the treatment these poor children have received in Basford Workhouse'.
    (and it also shows how the whole experience has aged some of them prematurely ??!!)

    I wonder what their life was like after this, and what happened to them and to their mother.

    Best wishes,
    Dave Johnson.

Deciphered, transcribed, compiled, indexed, formatted and copyright © 2008, . All Rights Reserved.